Cosatu welcomes signing of South African Postbank Amendment Bill into law

Published Oct 2, 2023


Cosatu has welcomed the recent signing of the South African Postbank Amendment Bill into law, saying it laid the foundation for a state bank geared towards ordinary consumers, in particular the poor and marginalised.

The bill was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa following its adoption by Parliament earlier this year.

It seeks to adjust the establishment and the shareholding arrangements for the Postbank through the creation of a new banking controlling company.

The bill provides for the transfer in shareholding for the Postbank from the South African Post Office to government and the creation of a bank controlling company in terms of the Banks Act.

Cosatu acting spokesperson Matthew Parks said the bill would provide a sustainable way forward for the embattled Post Office.

He said many workers, the poor, the elderly, persons living with disabilities, those living in informal and rural areas and other vulnerable persons have long been redlined by the mainstream commercial banks, leaving them unable or struggling to access banking and financial services.

“Our banking and financial sector is rife with anti-competitive and monopolistic behaviour, a tendency to milk consumers with excessive bank charges, exploit banking workers with slave wages, and an ambivalence towards supporting job creation and local investments and procurement.”

Parks added that the amendment act also laid the foundation for the full operationalisation of the Post Bank.

“This is critical if it is to be allowed to enter the banking and financial services sectors. This will help inject competition into sectors needing a shake up. It will help workers and the marginalised access banking and financial services.

“The Postbank, with its symbiotic relationship with the Post Office, will help to repivot, stabilise and grow the Post Office and ensure disadvantaged communities can once again access and rely upon its services.

“The act is a welcome step forward in building a state bank aimed at consumers and SMMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises),” he said.

According to Parks, if the Postbank was to meet its developmental objectives, the government needed to provide the necessary support, including recapitalisation, and the appointment of competent management for the Postbank and Post Office to grow and to thrive.

“The South African Post Office has been in financial freefall for many years now. This has caused the retrenchments of many postal workers and seen their wages unpaid, increases not given, and medical and pension funds payments deducted from workers’ wages but not paid to those funds as legally required.”

Parks also said the R2.4 billion bailout provided for in the 2023-24 budget needed to be accompanied by a clear turnaround plan.

“This needs to be based upon expanding the range of products that it offers consumers, including courier services, access to Sassa payments and other government services. It should not be based upon retrenching nearly 4 000 employees and slashing the wages of the remaining 9 000 employees by 40%, as these will only serve to send these workers and their families into absolute poverty and collapse the Post Office’s capacity.”

Cape Times